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No Sleep For PR Company Handling Gorbachev Coverage

June 1, 1990

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ After tackling the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, a public relations company has taken on the enormous task of coordinating press coverage of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit - for free.

Other local companies donated eight extra phone lines and four extra facsimile machines to help the PBN Co.’s staff field requests from more than 1,000 media organizations who want credentials for more than 3,000 journalists.

″It’s hopping,″ PBN founder Peter Necarsulmer said Friday.

Unlike the 1987 Golden Gate Bridge celebration, which took more than a year to plan and earned PBN $600,000, Necarsulmer said he learned of the Gorbachev visit less than two weeks ago.

He hopes the event will bring the company exposure and more than compensate for the long, free hours. If PBN were paid for this job, he said, the fee would run ″very, very well into the six figures.″

The work was going ″far better than I think anyone could’ve anticipated,″ he said, noting that the federal government, city officials, the White House, news media and security forces were cooperating well.

Veteran journalists said the real test of PBN’s 24-member staff will be Monday, when Gorbachev’s schedule includes coffee with former president Ronald Reagan, a quick trip to Stanford University, a formal luncheon with business leaders in San Francisco, and a possible meeting with South Korean President Roh Tae-woo.

″They seem to be doing okay,″ said San Francisco Examiner Deputy Metro Editor Don Thornton. ″There seems to be so many changes and fixes, it’s been a nightmare for us.″

″They’ve got an impossible job,″ said Thornton. ″So far, they’re meeting the challenge ... We’ll know Monday.″

″They’ve got a lot more to lose than gain.″

About 20 people from rival public relations agencies volunteered their time to help plan Gorbachev’s visit.

″It’s amazing,″ said PBN account assistant Amy Pew. ″People just really wanted to work on this.″

Sleep has been hard to come by.

″I got some last night. I think I got two hours,″ said Necarsulmer. ″But I’m feeling good. I have enough adrenaline to get me through to Tuesday morning. Which is why I, more than anyone else, hope the Gorbachevs make their plane Monday night.″

Not everyone will get press credentials. Small pools of reporters and photographers will be allowed to cover events, leaving others to watch on closed-circuit television.

″You won’t believe how many photographers will claim they work for Life magazine,″ said Necarsulmer.

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